Steve Israel
Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills) holds up a foreign-made National Park Service ranger doll sold at NPS gift shops on Wednesday, July 3, 2013.

Holding a foreign-made Liberty Bell necktie, National Park Service ranger doll and calendar of iconic American scenery, a Long Island congressman called on NPS merchandise to be Made in the USA.

Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills) is proposing legislation that would require NPS gift shops to stop selling foreign-made products and replace them with only American-made souvenirs to help create domestic manufacturing jobs and boost the national economy.

“This is a simple and common sense plan,” Israel told reporters Wednesday at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site in Oyster Bay, the home of President Theodore Roosevelt, who created the NPS in 1916. “American parks are our most beautiful and prized possessions and we should sell American products and give Americans back their jobs.”

Israel fought a similar battle last year upon learning that the 2012 Olympic uniforms worn by Team USA were made in China. Although the ‘Team USA Made in America Act of 2012’ died, the U.S. Olympic Committee vowed future uniforms will be manufactured in America.

Local business leaders expressed support for the NPS merchandise bill, noting the purchase power of the agency that has 283 million visitors annually.

“This bill will help companies like ours who sell reminder media products such as key tags, mugs, and calendars,” said Nelson Taxel, chief executive officer of Hauppauge-based Positive Promotions, a family-owned company that has been in business for 67 years.

“There are 4,500 different manufacturing companies in the US and 22,000 distributors that all can produce and sell these products that Congressman Israel mentioned,” he said.

The congressman noted the irony of Americans who will be visiting historic national park siteson the Fourth of July, buying patriotic memorabilia made oversees. Aside from Sagamore Hill, NPS sites on LI include the Fire Island Lighthouse and William Floyd Estate in Mastic.

“They will buy a liberty tie and find out that it was made in China and that makes no sense to me,” said Israel. “Calendars found in the National Park gift shops are printed in China while we have printers right here on Long Island that could have done it.”

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Timothy Bolger is the Editor in Chief of the Long Island Press who’s been working to uncover unreported stories since shortly after it launched in 2003. When he’s not editing, getting hassled by The Man or fielding cold calls to the newsroom, he covers crime, general interest and political news in addition to reporting longer, sometimes investigative features. He won’t be happy until everyone is as pissed off as he is about how screwed up Lawn Guyland is.